Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gen. Doubleday didn't invent baseball

It is the birthday Union General Abner Doubleday (1819), who is credited with firing the first shot in the Civil War at Fort Sumter, and also registering a patent for the cable car railway that still operates in San Francisco. He may be more widely remembered, however, for something historians say he didn’t do: invent baseball. The story of Doubleday’s invention of baseball persisted for generations, perpetuated by a 1905 baseball commission’s report that came to that conclusion. Recent scholarship, though, calls that story a myth and presents evidence that the principal source for it was highly unreliable. Nevertheless, the Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Doubleday’s boyhood home of Cooperstown, New York, and a baseball stadium and a minor league team are named for him. Doubleday did publish two important Civil War volumes: Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie (1876), and Chancellorsville and Gettysburg (1882).

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